3,000 village courts to start within a month: Law minister

January 17th, 2009 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 17 (IANS) Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj Saturday said around 3,000 village courts will start functioning within a month, meeting the United Progressive Alliance government’s promise to take the justice delivery system to the doorsteps of people in remote villages across the country.The minister made the announcement in his inaugural address to a conference on ‘Need for Strengthening Alternate Dispute Resolution in India’, organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry here.

“The government has decided to create 3,000 Gram Nyayalayas (village courts) shortly across the country to decentralise dispensation of justice,” Bhardwaj said, adding that the finance ministry has already agreed to release Rs.6 billion for the purpose.

Bhardwaj said his ministry has convened a meeting of chief justices of all high courts and top bureaucrats of the states here Feb 2 to start the process of opening up village courts across the country.

“The village courts will start functioning latest within a month’s time at a cost of Rs.2 million each allocated from the central pool,” he said.

Bhardwaj said that for the first three years, half of the salaries of judges in village courts and other employees will be paid by central allocations.

“Thereafter, it would be responsibility of the states concerned to bear the burden of capital cost of such courts,” he said.

The minister said the opening of village courts is part of the UPA government’s effort to bring down the backlog of cases in various courts, including in the Supreme Court where it has crossed the 48,000 mark.

High courts across the country have a backlog of 3.8 million cases more, while the lower courts across the country have a backlog of over 25 million cases, he added.

The minister also said that his ministry has also finalised a draft document to initiate amendments in existing arbitration procedures which encourage litigation rather than sorting out disputes.

Touching the issues of the existing economic recession, Bhardwaj said that the government will beat it the best way at its command and announce bail out packages as required for stressed sectors to take them out of current recession.

“The prime minister is more than concerned about it and has been discussing this at every cabinet meeting with his colleagues in the government,” he said.

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